Brailyn Marquez – Picture by Todd Johnson
As usual, the Cubs waited until the last possible second to turn in their list of players they were tendering contracts for next season. One move was surprising and the other, not so much as the Cubs did not offer 2023 contracts to Rafael Ortega, Brailyn Marquez, and Alexander Vizcaino.
Since this is a minor league web site, we will talk about the prospects and leave Ortega for someone else to discuss.
Let’s start with Vizcaino…
Vizcaino, a young right handed pitcher, was acquired last summer with Kevin Alcantara for Anthony Rizzo. I saw him pitch a few times in South Bend but he did not look very comfortable doing so as he was having shoulder issues. He did not report to spring training this year and was placed on the restricted list all season long. It was rumored that he basically just quit but did not retire.
The Big Lefty Is No More
As for Marquez, the Cubs signed him as an international free agent 2015. He debuted in the Dominican in 2016 and then came stateside in 2017 to Mesa and started to catch everybody’s attention at Eugene in 2018 as he began to flash a fastball that had gone from the low 90s to the mid 90s to the upper 90s.
In 2019, Marquez was assigned to South Bend where he started to put on a show. He would often touch triple digits and in the middle of the summer he began pitching differently. Rather than trying to get everybody out with the sliders in two strike counts, he began to for throw his fastball in those same counts and got some of the ugliest wings I’ve ever seen in minor league baseball. He struck out 128 guys in 103.2 IP that year to go along with a 3.13 ERA. It looked like the Cubs might have something special on their hands.
Marquez would earn a promotion to Myrtle Beach in the summer of 2019 and was supposed to be at Tennessee to start the 2020 season. However, the pandemic put an end to that season and Marquez wound up at the alternate site in South Bend gaining experience. He would pitch 2/3 of an inning on the last day of the 2020 MLB season and the hope from the Cubs was that he would become a “pitching weapon“ at some point in the future.
In 2021, a case of Covid and shoulder issues caused him to miss all of the season. And those same shoulder issues continued in 2022 even as he was occasionally spotted out in Arizona.
The strange thing about letting Marquez go is that he is still relatively young at 23 years old. It had to be a hard decision to just release the young lefty but the Cubs did mainly due to injuries. Someone is going to to take a shot on him. Who knows, though, he might re-sign with the Cubs on a minor league deal. You never know how much one team is willing to risk and how much money they will put behind that risk. We shall find out soon.